Sunday, 27 October 2013

The March To The Sea: An American Civil War Matrix Game – June 1864

Messages Sent
From: General William Tecumseh Sherman USA (US Army of the Tennessee)

The Army of the Tennessee will continue its operations in support of the Army of the Ohio. Whilst the Army of the Ohio maintains close contact with General Johnston’s Army and constantly engages it, we shall envelop its flank and cut off its lines of supply. Should the Rebels attempt to extricate themselves from their precarious position, we shall frustrate their moves by moving into the Kenesaw Mountains. This will be achieved because:
  1. The Army of the Tennessee is in good heart and is pleased to be taking part in important work which it well understands.
  2. There are ample supplies, with the forward depots now containing sufficient stores for a six month campaign. The Army of the Tennessee is reducing its establishment of baggage etc. to improve its capacity for mobile operations.
  3. Johnston has no cavalry units with his Army. Union cavalry can screen our movements whilst providing ample warning of Rebel activity.

From: General John M Schofield USA (US Army of the Ohio)

The Army of the Ohio will engage the Rebel Army, with the result that it will be pinned in position at Cassville, thus allowing Sherman’s Army of the Tennessee to strike it in the flank or rear. My Army will be able to accomplish this for the following reasons:
  1. The Army of the Ohio is already in contact with the Rebel Army.
  2. After fighting in May, the Rebels will be too fatigued to march away from my Army.
  3. Johnston’s Army has no cavalry but mine does, thus enabling me to gain a tactical advantage.

From: General Joseph E Johnston CSA (Army of Tennessee)

The Army of Tennessee will march into the Kenesaw Mountains. This will lead to significant losses among the pursuing Yankee scum due to:
  1. The adverse terrain they will have to move through.
  2. The Yankees’ fear of the recently victorious Southern forces.
  3. The difficulties of controlling a large formation in a mountainous area.

From: General Nathan Bedford Forrest CSA (GOC Bedford’s Raiders)

Bedford’s Raiders will destroy the railroad line linking Nashville and Chattanooga at the Cumberland Gap, with the result that the Union Armies of the Tennessee and the Ohio will be forced to withdraw towards Chattanooga to re-instate their lines-of-communication. We will be successful because:
  1. We are a mobile force operating in an area well known to us.
  2. The local populace is supporting us due to our well publicised success in Nashville.
  3. The Cumberland Gap area is totally devoid of Union Troops.

From: General John Hunt Morgan CSA (GOC Morgan’s Cavalry)

I will raid into Chattanooga and destroy the Army of the Tennessee’s forward supply depots, with the result that, starved of supplies and reinforcements, the Union Armies of the Tennessee and the Ohio will suffer loss of morale and fighting effectiveness. I will succeed because:
  1. The aforementioned Yankee Armies are heavily engaged with our own heroic Army of Tennessee.
  2. No reinforcement will come from Nashville because Forrest is operating on their lines-of-communication.
  3. My men are inspired by the chance to emulate their famous raids through Kentucky and Tennessee in 1862 which paralysed Buell’s Army of 40,000 Blue-bellies.

From: General George Thomas USA (US Army of the Cumberland)

I shall, during the month of June, prepare my defences in the area of Nashville, in accordance with Uncle Billy’s wishes, with the result that if my forces are attacked there, their combat effectiveness will be improved. The reasons that I am able to do this are as follows:
  1. My forces were already concentrated in this area in preparation for the training they were about to undertake.
  2. The enemy forces are light raiding forces, ill prepared to assault prepared defences.
  3. Although my force is largely infantry, I possess sufficient cavalry to obtain early warning of any attacks.

Campaign Events
Early in June, General Sherman wrote to General Grant - then located in Virginia overseeing the operations of the Army of the Potomac - about the recent events in his area of operations.
To: Lieutenant General U. S. Grant, Virginia

Dear Sam,

As you will have heard via CNN (the Cincinnati National Navigator), we have opened accounts with Joe Johnston. Things have happened as well as we might have expected; John Schofield got a bloody nose, but is none the worse for that. Johnston now has to face both of us, and he is a long way from help.

George Thomas has handed out a pretty smart lesson to those bandits Forrest and Morgan and saved our depots and trains. There was talk in the press that I considered going to his aid. That’s a damn lie. I never doubted but that George would see off those Jayhawkers without my assistance, and he would have been pretty hurt if I had offered any.

The country hereabouts is very thick, all hills and woods, and the Rebels have the entire country digging trenches for them. Nevertheless, we can handle them, John and I, and George too when he arrives.

Best wishes,

Bill Sherman
Sherman’s concerns about trenches proved unfounded, but it did lead to a certain hesitancy on his part during the early weeks of June. In the meantime, Johnston was able to maintain the initiative, and the Army of Tennessee fell back in good order into the Kenesaw Mountains, closely pursued by Schofield’s Army of the Ohio.

Sherman’s Army of the Tennessee continued to put pressure on Johnston’s troops, and threatened to turn his flanks, with the result that the Army of Tennessee was bested in several of the skirmishes that took place.

The continued Union advance was possible despite the success of Forrest’s raid to cut the railroad between Nashville and Chattanooga, and Morgan’s raid on the Union’s forward supply depots in Chattanooga. This was due to the fact that Sherman and Schofield had already reduced their baggage trains to the minimum in order to set themselves free from such a potential threat to their rear.

In the meantime, Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland continued with its preparations in the Nashville area.

Please click on the map to make it larger.

Troop Strengths

  1. As from the beginning of July, The Army of the Cumberland will have a +1 increase in its Combat Effectiveness as long as it remains in Nashville.
  2. As from the beginning of September, the Armies of the Tennessee and the Ohio will have a -1 decrease in their Combat Effectiveness unless or until the railroad between Nashville and Chattanooga is repaired.

Please click on the charts to make them larger.

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